By Janee Law
In 2001, Sail Van Nostrand decided that he wanted to get into the solar game, citing it as the up-and-coming advancement in technology.
“I wanted to be part of something that was unique, up and coming and special,” Nostrand, 58, said.
Nostrand graduated from Polytechnic Institute, now part of New York University, in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering, narrowly missing the computer generation.
“The computer world was really rocking. I missed the dot-com bubble because I was already in the work world,” Nostrand said. So he didn’t want to miss a potential solar bubble.
“From an engineering point of view, solar was a no brainer it just had to be at the right time to make it happen,” the Greenlawn resident said.
Now, Nostrand, owner of Energy By Choice in Northport, is celebrating the Northport business’ 10-year anniversary.
Starting out, Nostrand worked part-time out of his home, with no other employees in sight. Instead, he’d borrow family members to complete a job. In December 2005, he installed two solar panel systems for neighbors. The next summer, he incorporated the company.
“Slowly but surely, we started building,” he said, adding that the company now has 10 full-time employees. He added that he hopes to grow that number to 12 by the end of the year.
In 2015, the 81 Scudder Ave. company completed a total of 54 jobs, including 18 within the Town of Huntington.
“What I like so much about my job is that we spend an awful lot of time learning and building relationships with our clients,” he said. “We like to do it right…It’s about extracting every good willed moment from every customer.”
When sitting down with clients, Nostrand said he walks them through whether or not solar is the right choice for their home. This includes several factors, including whether sunlight directly hits the home; financial plans, such as buying or leasing a system, or taking out a loan; and the type of panels than can be installed.
In addition, Nostrand said the business prides itself on honesty, authentic service and high quality, with Sun Power as their solar panel supplier.
“I’m going to stand out by doing a better job and being at a much higher commitment to excellence,” he said. “For us, the key is to find our spot and continue to be that boutique that does what no one else is willing to do in terms of the caliber, commitment and the effort. We’re looking to be special and as the market shifts we’ll continue to find that slot in that market.”
Nostrand said he also helped foster the solar industry on Long Island when getting involved in the business. He, along with other local business owners, struggled to have their voices heard and created the Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association in 2008. Nostrand has since served for two years as vice chairman, and three years as chairman.
Around that time, Nostrand was also elected to the New York Solar Energy Industries Association board, serving as vice president for four years.
Energy By Choice
81 Scudder Ave.,